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Personal stories about starting antiretroviral medication

These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.

Marla, age 30: My cell counts and viral load are still a little better than the ranges where some experts would offer me treatment. But these medicines sound like my best hope of living long enough to see my daughter graduate from high school.

Ted, age 45: I put off taking the antiretroviral medications for as long as I could, but when my CD4+ cell count dropped to 250, I decided that it was time to start. These medications may not be perfect, but they seem to help. If they give me even a few more years before I get AIDS, it will be worth it to me.

Greg, age 38: I know several people who have had unpleasant side effects from the antiretrovirals. Right now, even though my cell counts are in the "treatment" ranges, I'm not ready to start taking medicines. I haven't ruled out taking them later on, but for now I'm going to do the best I can to stay healthy and appreciate every day that I'm not sick.

Miguel, age 40: The past few years have been a really exciting time for people with HIV infection. I've followed the research pretty closely, and it sounds like every few months we know a little bit more about how best to fight this disease. I know that the newer medicines have fewer side effects than the older medicines. I'm hoping that the medicines will get even better by the time my numbers get into the recommended treatment range. In the meantime, I'm going to take very good care of myself, eat well, exercise, and try to avoid infections.

Author Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Tracy Landauer
Primary Medical Reviewer Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine
Last Updated May 8, 2008

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 08, 2008
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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